December Food for Thought: Pure Cream
I’m surprised how much cream differs from county to county and state to state, even country to country. In some parts of New England it’s hard to find cream that hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized or doesn’t have additives. Real heavy cream with a milk-fat content of 36-40 percent is usually only available in gourmet markets.
When I go shopping, I’m looking for pure cream that has nothing added. Start by looking at the label – it should say cream, nothing else. Cream that has emulsifiers and chemicals may have an aftertaste. Whipping creams contain 30-36 percent milk-fat and generally contain additives. Ultra-pasteurized cream, which is what you will most often find, has been heated to high temperatures to give the cream a longer shelf life, but I believe the cream has an almond taste, some say a “cooked” flavor to the cream. Also, I don’t think the ultra-pasteurized cream whips as well as heavy cream. Pure heavy cream should double in volume when it’s properly whipped.
The only reason sugar and vanilla were ever added to heavy cream when whipping was to mask the undesirable flavors of stabilizers and chemicals added to prevent spoilage or mask the flavor of cream that had started to sour. If you must add sugar to heavy cream that you intend to whip, do you add powdered sugar or granulated sugar? I would not add powdered sugar to cream because most powdered sugars contain cornstarch. Use granulated sugar that has been ground fine in the food processo, or buy fruit-fine sugar, if you can find it.
From talking to people that know the business, I’m told that good, pure heavy cream and milk come from the brown jersey or the Guernsey cows, while the black and white Holstein cows produce the most milk and cream, but not necessarily the best quality or highest fat content.
For every pint of heavy cream to be whipped, add two tablespoons granulated sugar. I don’t like whipped cream too sweet, especially if it’s meant to be served with a sweet dessert. Temperature is the most important factor to consider when whipping cream. The cream should be very cold and the bowl should be cold as well. Start whipping the heavy cream and slowly stream in the sugar and whip to full volume. If the cream is overwhipped, you will start to taste butter instead of a sweet cream taste.
Pure heavy cream that has been lightly whipped to perfection can be a real treat, if you can find it.
Steve James, Certified Master Baker
Managing Partner, Popovers on the Square
Portsmouth, e-mail comments or question to:
Organic, unpasteurized cream
Rollinsford (603) 742-4084, www.brookfordfarm.com
Available at the farm and the Blue Moon Café, at 8 Clifford St. in Exeter.